This particular article concerned a back packer on a 3 day elephant trek through the Doi Inthanon National Park, who repeatedly asked the tour guide if the elephants were happy and well treated and was given his assurance that they were.
Her first impressions did not go down well, when she saw a very young baby with 6 feet of chain connecting her to her mother’s neck. The mother sported numerous large purple marks on her head with a very noticeable wound in the middle. On enquiring about the purple marks and wounds, she was told by her guide they were caused by insect bites.
The group of 12 people were quickly ushered to a platform where they were required to climb onto the backs of 6 elephants. Once positioned, the procession of elephants set off. Being high up, she was able to view her surroundings and the tops of the elephant’s heads and noticed similar markings on every one of the other animals and all with a wound in the middle.
Within two minutes of setting off, the elephants had to make their way down a rather steep decline in the embankment. Needless to say, the mother was apprehensive of this and probably for the safety of her baby who was still at an awkward stage. Within minutes, this person heard a banging and on turning round, witnessed the mahout violently hitting the mother on her head with such velocity he was having to work the pick back and forth to release it. The trekker yelled and scream at him to stop, which on attracting the attention of the other trekkers, had them all screaming and shouting for the mahout to stop beating the mother elephant. The mahout stopped hitting her, but there was already puss and blood oozing from an already existing wound on the mother’s head. This made it painfully clear what the insect bites really were.
Because of the anger at the treatment of the elephant, the mahouts did not beat them again through out the remainder of the trek, but having to watch the little baby struggling up embankments that were 4 times the height of her, even with her mothers help, was too much for the trekkers who desperately wanted to get off, but were unable to until they had reached their destination which was another 50 minutes away.
On arrival of the camp, they found it to be repulsive with grounds being covered in elephant feaces including their eating area. There was also a pregnant elephant chained up with a 4 foot piece of chain, not allowing her to move.
All the elephants in the camp were seen to be chained up and in particular, one who looked seriously ill. This particular one was covered in the purple marks all over his head on his back and along his spine.
The treatment of elephants in this country is a disgrace and the people should be ashamed that this is happening to their symbol of Thailand. How can people treat animal in this way then go and pray to Buddha.
Remarks: some photos have no connections to the article.